The government has effectively cancelled Britain’s cultural life beyond the home for the foreseeable future, in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Theatres, galleries and gig venues are closing their doors, as the government asks Britons to avoid all non-essential travel and social contact, and to avoid pubs and public gatherings.

All in all, it’s a pretty gloomy time for culture lovers.

Luckily, slowing as the arts world may be, it has not yet ground to a complete halt. From concerts live-streamed by the London Symphony Orchestra to Damien Hirst sculptures in the heart of London, the Telegraph’s arts editors and critics have put together a guide to performances and events still going ahead, digitally if not physically. 

Online Festivals

At Home with Penguin

Every Tuesday at 5pm Penguin is streaming live from the home of one of the nation’s favourite authors, to discuss how they’re spending their time, talk about the books they are turning to, and take questions from readers. This week, it’s Marian Keyes; she’ll be followed by Melissa Hemsley, Caroline Criado Perez and Richard Osman. You can watch here.

The Cosmic Shambles Network’s Stay At Home Festival

Comedy and science focused online entertainers The Cosmic Shambles Network has launched a free Stay At Home online festival, featuring internationally-renowned comics and scientists. Daily events include the regular Stay At Home Show Show with Robin Ince, Josie Long and guests.

BBC’s Culture in Quarantine  

Billed as a  “virtual festival of the arts”, the BBC will launch a new ongoing service to promote British art and culture, aiming to “provide an audience that can’t be there in person”. The service will run across a number of platforms, including Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, Sounds, and iPlayer. 

Culture in Quarantine will focus on non-traditional broadcast media, with guides to closed exhibitions and museum collections, broadcasts of new plays, including from David Greig and Mike Bartlett’s Albion, a virtual book festival curated with Kit de Waal in May, a puppet show from Margaret Atwood for Front Row Late, Bac Beatbox Academy’s hit show Frankenstein, classic Shakespeares with the RSC.

National Theatre of Scotland’s Scenes for Survival

In association with BBC Scotland and Culture in Quarantine, NT Scotland is offering an alternative theatrical online programme to provide for artists and entertain audiences during the outbreak.  Actors, writers and directors will be engaged and paid to create short pieces of digital theatre remotely from their personal spaces of isolation.

Artists and writers involved so far include Cora Bissett, Mark Bonnar, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Jenni Fagan,Val McDermid and Ian Rankin. Find out more.


Classical concerts, live-streamed

The Metropolitan Opera house at New York’s Lincoln Center will live-stream concerts

Credit: John Minchillo

As concert halls shut and concerts are postponed worldwide, many major classical concerts and events are being held without audiences, and streamed live. Here are some more upcoming free concerts:

6 April

At 7.30pm Leon McCawley (piano) performs Schubert, Schumann, Grieg and Janáček at the Wigmore Hall in London. Click here to live-stream.

10 April

At 6pm the Royal Opera House will broadcast Così fan tutte, from 2010. Click here to live-stream.

17 April

At 6pm the Royal Opera House will broadcast The Metamorphosis, performed by the Royal Ballet in 2013. Click here to live-stream.

20 April

At 7pm the National Youth Orchestra of Germany & Christoph Altstaedt perform music by Beethoven and Brett Dean. Click here to live-stream.

Here are some classical music organisations that have made their streamed concert archive available for free

London Symphony Orchestra – ‘Always Playing’ (more details coming soon) Visit:

The Metropolitan Opera – ‘Nightly Met Opera Streams’ (free) Visit:

Berlin Philharmonic – ‘Digital Concert Hall’ (free) Visit:

Wigmore Hall – ‘Live Stream’ (free) Visit:

Bavarian State Opera – ‘Staatsopera TV’ (free) Visit:

Seattle Symphony – ‘Live Broadcasts’ every Thursday and Saturday (free) Visit: or

Vienna State Opera – ‘Continues Daily Online’ (free) Visit:

Detroit Symphony Orchestra – ‘DSO Replay’ (free) Visit:

Gothenberg Symphony Orchestra – ‘GSO Play’ (free) Visit:

Budapest Festival Orchestra – ‘Quarantine Soirées’ (free) Visit:

Pianist Boris Giltburg – ‘Lunchtime Concerts’ (free) Visit: or

Opera North – ‘Watch The Ring Cycle In Full Online’ (free) Visit:

Pop concerts, live-streamed


Similarly over in the popular music scene, as tour dates and live gigs are cancelled, artists are devising new ways to play live music to their fans. Pop star John Legend, UK singer Yungblud, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Bono are among those who have already live-streamed gigs on Youtube or Instagram. The cast of the Olivier-winning improvised musical Showstoppers live-streamed their show from the Lyric on March 16 and you can still watch it here.

Here are some upcoming free online gigs:

April 6

Columbia Record’s continues its live-stream gigs on Instagram with Quinn XCII at 10pm and Lennon Stella 10pm. You can watch them here.

April 7

Carly Pearce will go live on WGTY’s Instagram account at 11:30pm. Columbia’s Livestreams continue on Instagram with Ambjaay at 8pm, Quinn XCII at 10pm, and Simxsantan at 1am. You can watch them here.

April 9

Columbia’s Livestreams continue on Instagram with Quinn XCII at 10pm, Simxsantana at 1am, and Diplo at 2am.

Christine And The Queens: the French singer is performing nightly (18.00 ET) live shows from the Ferber recording studio in Paris and streaming them to her Instagram.

April 10

Los Angeles-based indie rockers Sure Sure invite people inside their shared abode at 12am for their Home Home Tour, with tickets available here.

Freedom Fly will be hosting a Homechella at 3.30am to preview new songs from their album live in their studio. You can watch it here.

April 11

Facebook Live will be hosting Human to Human, a benefit event from 4pm to 4am. Confirmed performances include Alec Bejanim, Andrew McMahon, Butch Walker, Grouplove, Hunter Hayes, Jensen McRae, Jewel, Lauren Daigle, Lucie Silvas, Nicolas Petricca (Walk The Moon), Sam Nelson Harris (X Ambassadors), Skylar Grey, Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Tori Kelly and more. You can watch it here.

Some venues are also continuing their live music programmes, in the virtual world:

The Piano Works: the piano bars is live-streaming live music via their Facebook page from 8pm to midnight every Friday and Saturday.

Sing alongs

The Sofa Singers is a free online choir set up in response to the coronavirus outbreak which brings people together in real time for 45 minute choir rehearsals, to learn a classic song with some optional harmonies/backing parts, followed by a virtual tea break. The next event is on April 7 at 7.30pm.

TV choir master Gareth Malon has set up The Great British Home Chorus. Register here.


While most big summer events are cancelling or postponing, family favourite Camp Bestival is currently going ahead as planned in Lulworth, Dorset from July 30Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul is also planning to go ahead from Moseley Park, Birmingham from July 10.


While most art galleries have shut their doors for the time being, there is still art to be enjoyed both online and in person.

Online exhibitions

David Hockney, Do Remember They Can’t Cancel The Spring (2020)

British artist David Hockney has shared 10 of his latest pictures, 9 of which have never been seen before, drawn on an Ipad from the garden of his Normandy home. You can the see pictures here.

Collections from home

Under the Instagram hashtag #MuseumFromHome, museums and galleries around the world are explaining how you can enjoy their collections from home.

The Rijks Museum, the Vatican Museum, the British Museum, the Prado, the National Gallery, the Palace of Versailles, the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre and the Smithsonian all have excellent online facilities.

Getty has announced has put together a collection of online resources, including a series of Michelangelo drawings.

Art outdoors

Here are some open-air artworks still open to visitors, in London and further afield:

Contemporary British artist Conrad Shawcross’s Three Perpetual Chords, commissioned in 2015 to honour the park’s original sculpture by Barbara Hepworth can be seen in Dulwich Park, in Southwark. 

Two pieces by Damien Hirst – Hydra & Kali and Mermaid – are on permanent display on Greenwich Peninsula, where the British artist once lived.

The oldest dinosaur sculptures in the world, once a favourite of Queen Victoria, can be seen in the Dinosaur Court at Crystal Palace Park, in South London.

At the Yorkshire Sculpture Park you can see permanent pieces from internationally acclaimed artists, including Ai Weiwei, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. Four major sculptures by Damien Hirst are due to go on display from April 12.


Cinemas may be closed, but there will be plenty of ways to access new releases in the coming weeks from home.

Home releases

 Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse in Emma

Credit: Focus Features

Universal Pictures is the first studio to announce that its current cinema releases – including Emma, The Invisible Man and The Hunt – will be available to rent from March 20, in the US and in some other international markets including the UK. The films will be available for 48-hour rentals at a suggested price of $19.99.

Disney has made the Pixar film Onward available for online purchase, before it arrives on Disney+ on April 3.

Warner Bros released the superhero film Birds of Prey and Ben Affleck’s comeback The Way Back online on March 24; US distributor STX Entertainment announced that Guy Ritchie’s action-comedy The Gentlemen, released in cinemas in January, is also now available online.

Curzon Home Cinema released Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Truth, starring Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve, Fire Will Come, and Dogs Don’t Wear Pants on March 20, which is their theatrical release date. On March 27 it released System Crasher (courtesy of 606 Distribution), followed by a live Q&A with director Nora Fingscheidt. The live Q&A will begin at 9pm and Curzon encourages people at home to watch along together from 6.45pm.

The BFI Player releases Zed Nelson’s East London documentary The Street on March 23.



Several platforms have released or brought forward a clutch of exciting new titles to meet increased demand for at-home entertainment.

The Mandalorian

Credit: Disney+

Disney’s dedicated streaming platform Disney+ launched in the UK on March 24, bringing with it over 1,000 films, TV shows and originals. Mostly hotly anticipated are The Mandalorian (the Star Wars spin-off), a live action retelling of the 1955 classic Lady and the Tramp, and a new Toy Story series, Forky Asks a Question, centred on the fourth film’s breakout star.

Apple TV+ (also available on other platforms including Amazon Fire TV and Roku) released flashy New York period drama The Banker starring Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie on March 20, and mystery drama Home Before Dark, produced by Jon M. Chu of Crazy Rich Asians, will appear on April 3.

And a bit of good news from Netflix… stiff upper lips at the ready, The Crown finished its final week of filming on season four, despite Netflix suspending production on most of its other shows. If social distancing measures drag on into the end of the year, at least we’ll have a royal wedding to look forward to.


The BBC has unveiled ambitious plans to provide entertainment, laughter and escapism. Boxsets shortly to appear on the iPlayer include Spooks, The Missing, Waking The Dead, French And Saunders, Wallander and The Honourable Woman.

They will shortly also be launching a new iPlayer experience for children.

Late Night Talk shows, home edition

Late night talk show hosts are making very DIY-looking home monologues and streaming them for free on weeknights to replace their shows.

Jimmy Fallon home edition

Jimmy Fallon is posting 10-minute episodes of the Tonight Show: At Home Edition, filmed by his wife, every weeknight, in support of the food bank Feeding America.

Jimmy Kimmel is also posting webcam “minilogues” every weeknight.



Simon Russell Beale is George Smiley 

Credit: Andrew Crowley

Radio 4 is digging into its archive of drama, with such well-loved titles as The Complete Smiley, all of the novels by the Brontë sisters, film-noir classics by Raymond Chandler, and such reassuring favourites as Rumpole and Wodehouse.

A new initiative Culture in Quarantine, focused most intensely across Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, Sounds, iPlayer, will work with Arts Council England and other national funding and producing bodies to keep the arts alive in the home. Programmes will include guides to shuttered exhibitions, performances from world-class musicians and comedy clubs, new plays created especially for broadcast featuring exceptional talent, poetry and book readings.


New writing

A new radio play, The Understudy, starring Stephen Fry, Mina Anwar, Layton Williams, Emily Atack, Russell Tovey, Sheila Atim MBE, Sarah Hadland and more, will be broadcast in May, to raise money for theatre charities. The play will be adapted byHenry Filloux-Bennett, based on the novel by David Nicholls.

Several theatre companies, including Papatango and the newly formed Coronavirus Theatre Club are commissioning short pieces of new writing, to be performed, filmed and streamed online.

Online performances

The National Theatre has made its archive of performance films free online to state-funded pupils and teachers. It is also broadcasting an old production free every Thursday at 7pm. On April 9 the broadcast will be Sally Cookson’s 2015 production of Jane Eyre and on April 16 Polly Findlay’s 2014 Treasure Island.

Shakespeare’s Globe is streaming an archive performance every week for six weeks, beginning with its 2018 production of Hamlet on April 6, followed by 2009 Romeo and Juliet on April 13, and a 2013 A Midsummer Night’s Dream on April 20. You can watch here.

The Original Theatre Company’s production of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art and Ali Milles’ The Croft performed a closed performance on March 18 is available to download, for minimum £5.


Online readings

Oliver Jeffers

Credit: Clara Molden

Children’s author Oliver Jeffers (How to Catch a Star, Lost and Found) is doing nightly readings of his work live on his Instagram at 6pm.

Online book clubs

Writer Robert McFarlane has launched a virtual book club via Twitter. This week’s choice: Nan Shepherd’s slender masterpiece The Living Mountain.

Poetry online

Eastside, an arts organisation helping the creative development of young people, has cancelled its 25 Hour poetry event “I know, I wish, I will” planned for World Poetry Day at the Criterion Theatre in the West End, and replaced it with a Digital Stage event, broadcasting 25 spoken word poems from young people online. The broadcas tbegan at 11am on March 21.

The bard of Barnsley, Ian McMillan, has found inspiration in the social distancing measures.

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